As we go into the summer, I want to re-focus my website into assisting building owners when it comes to maintaining their historic structures. In addition, if time permits; I want to start aggressively analyzing the Newburyport Historic District to keep an eye out for ANR violations of historic preservation. ANR, of course, stands for ‘Approval Not Required’. So many of our historic buildings are being destroyed with little notice to our volunteer committees and commissions.
These are of course, in the purview of our building inspector.
It’s time to scrutinize what is being permitted.
To be fair, these are widely posted in the Newburyport Daily News for just such a purpose – to notify abutters, citizens and concerned groups of what is going on in their city. But most of us just don’t have the time to monitor and detect those actions by property owners that might be harmful to the community.
And yes, it may be legal but it doesn’t make it right. And it’s time that such actions should be detected and publicized. The territory is finite: Newbury border on High Street to Atkinson Common, most of the area between Marlboro all the way to Ashland in the east and mostly south of Merrimac and Water Street. The precise boundaries are posted on the historic district website.
The building inspector can do what he likes outside of this area – it is this finite geography that dictates the affluence and health of our entire community. It needs to be guarded jealously.
More importantly, along with this monitoring – comes the need to help those inside the boundaries. Maintenance rules don’t apply like they do outside of this area. Renovation and restoration techniques fine in other areas to raise equity and property values; actually guarantee a suppression in the opposite direction. Even those claiming to adhere to historic preservation techniques find a hard time and often get stumped.
Fortunately, there is a vast information database out there to help – but it will need to be made available. It’s like a huge warehouse of home improvement products but the doors are locked!
I know what needs to be done and so does the Preservation Trust – look to see more and more brought to the forefront so anyone in the historic district can have access to it.
Another desperate need can only be provided by a close cooperation between non-government agencies, finance companies and the government. Assistance needs to be provided by the City of Newburyport to ease the pain of preserving these difficult structures. And that has been historically lacking.
You would think that the government so dependent on maximized tax levies and stable income; would jealously do anything they can to protect their bread and butter. Not so in Newburyport.
We truly are, in many aspects, Cannibal City.
So as spring progresses and summer comes into its own; look for many posts on assisting the beleaguered property owner.